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L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects 253

An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Model Says Religiosity Gene Will Dominate Society 729

Hugh Pickens writes writes "PhysOrg reports on a study by Robert Rowthorn, emeritus professor at Cambridge University, that predicts that the genetic components that predispose a person toward religion are currently "hitchhiking" on the back of the religious cultural practice of high fertility rates and that provided the fertility of religious people remains on average higher than that of secular people, the genes that predispose people towards religion will spread. For example, in the past 20 years, the Amish population in the US has doubled, increasing from 123,000 in 1991 to 249,000 in 2010. The huge growth stems almost entirely from the religious culture's high fertility rate, which is about 6 children per woman, on average. Rowthorn says that while fertility is determined by culture, an individual's predisposition toward religion is likely to be influenced by genetics, in addition to their upbringing. In the model, Rowthorn uses a "religiosity gene" to represent the various genetic factors that combine to genetically predispose a person toward religion, whether remaining religious from youth or converting to religion from a secular upbringing. Rowthorn's model predicts that the religious fraction of the population will eventually stabilize at less than 100%, and there will remain a possibly large percentage of secular individuals. But nearly all of the secular population will still carry the religious allele, since high defection rates will spread the religious allele to secular society when defectors have children with a secular partner."

Does Personalized News Lead To Ignorance? 396

blackbearnh writes "As newspapers struggle to survive and local broadcasts try to find a way to compete with cable news, more and more news outlets are banking on what people want to hear about, rather than what they need to hear. Thoughtful analysis of problems is being pushed out of the way to make room for more celebrity gossip. Electronic news guru Chris Lee thinks that as people get news increasingly tailored to their tastes, the overall knowledge of important issues is plummeting. 'I think one of the observations about how consumers are behaving in the past five years that has surprised me the most is, again, this lack of feeling responsible for knowing the news of their country and their local government of that day. I don't think it's just a technology question. I think if you asked people now versus the same age group 20 years ago, I think they'd be stunningly less informed now about boring news, and tremendously more knowledgeable about bits of news that really interest them.'"

Sci Fi Channel Becoming Less Geek-Centric "SyFy" 798

narramissic writes "According to a TV Week article, NBC Universal has decided to change the name of their Sci Fi Channel to SyFy. Why? To pull in a more 'mainstream' audience. If you're unclear what 'more mainstream' means, TV Historian Tim Brooks spells it out for you: 'The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular.' Yes, we should probably all be offended. And telling us that a crack marketing team came up with the name because that's how tech-savvy 18-to-34 year-olds would text it really doesn't help."

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.